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From September 2005 through the end of this year's primary season, I worked on Sean Patrick Maloney's unsuccessful campaign to win the Democratic nomination for New York attorney general. I started as an intern and finished as a political assistant for LGBT outreach in New York City.
I first met Sean when he came to speak at an NYU College Democrats meeting. He left a strong impression on me--he was smart, passionate, and genuine. The fact that he is gay made this all the more impressive to me.
Getting to know Sean turned out to be the most rewarding part of the campaign. During the early months before the election, we were working out of a one-room storefront in the West Village. Sean was always accessible and he became an amazing mentor to me. As the months progressed the staff grew, headquarters moved uptown, and schedules became full. Still, Sean found time to talk.
One evening Sean and I were the only ones in the office--I was working on data entry, and he was drafting a letter for a mailer. After a while we got into a conversation. I asked him about his job as a senior aide in the Clinton White House. He talked to me like a contemporary rather than an intern.
When I was growing up gay in rural North Carolina, role models were hard to come by. As I slowly came out of the closet, I worried that I might be limiting my future with every person I told.
But Sean challenged that mind-set. He is a living example that the opportunities I was always told weren't available to gay men actually are. Sean has a career and a family--a partner of 13 years and three amazing kids. It didn't matter whether or not he won the election; his example let me see that my sexual orientation doesn't limit anything.